According to the Old Testament, the people of Israel desperately needed a king during the time of Samuel. In the book of Samuel, the Israelites presented several reasons to Samuel justifying their demands for an earthly king. In fact, this was in contrast to God’s preferred model of leadership that was primarily through judges.
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First, it is evident that the people were contented with the reign of Samuel as their Judge. Nevertheless, Samuel’s advancing age caused fear that he was almost dying. It was apparent that the nation’s future was unpredictable under judges, especially after Samuel appointed his sons Abijah and Joel to preside over his duties.
The people disliked the two sons for “…they did not walk in the ways of the lord…” (Halpern 209). For instance, Joel and Abijah took bribes when delivering justice, which made it difficult for people to trust them. Like the sons of Eli, Joel and Abijah perverted justice, making it evident that Israel’s sociopolitical system was no longer safe and effective.
Secondly, the people admired the political and social systems used in other nations. Most of Israel’s neighboring nations were under the rule of kings rather than judges (Halpern 209). In fact, the people believed that the king would be effective in leading them for war against other tribes and nations.
For instance, other kingdoms had kings with the ability to form strong militaries based on forced or paid labor. In addition, the people believed that a king would be effective in uniting the twelve tribes of Israel. They thought that other nations around them were militarily and socially strong because their kings were able to demand respect and cooperation from their subjects. This proved to be a difficult task for judges.
Thirdly, the Israelites were experiencing constant invasion by the Philistine army, which was relatively stronger and well organized than the Israeli militias. The philistines constantly invaded Israel, overrunning its militias (Halpern 209). In fact, the people thought that their weakness was caused by lack of a military.
To them, their judges were only using militias rather than forming career military systems. To resist the Philistines, the Israelites needed a strong leader and a strong military. Therefore, the threat posed by the Philistines increased the people’s demand for a king.
Despite Samuel’s warning to his subjects that a king had several negative impacts, the demand for a king was profound. Samuel was forced to seek guidance from God. On his part, God asked Samuel to anoint Saul as the first king of Israel. The choice of Saul as the first king of a united Israel was influenced by a number of factors, most of which were based on his physical appearance. For instance, he was relatively young (just 30 years), tall, noble and handsome.
He was seen as the only solution to avert the threats of invasion by neighboring states. The Philistines, Moabites, Amalekites and Ammonites were the main enemies around Israel. As a militia soldier, Saul was royal, brave and courageous. He was respected throughout Israel for his strength, physical appearance and abilities. Although the people did not choose Saul as their choice, God instructed Samuel to anoint him whenever he appeared in pursuit of his father’s donkeys.
However, Saul’s reign was rejected after a few years. Several reasons contributed to Saul’s rejection. For instance, he ignored the national traditions by offering sacrifices before going to war, a duty that was performed by God’s prophets. God, through Samuel, reprimanded Samuel for this action. Secondly, Saul disobeyed God after failing to kill the Amalekite King Agag and some of the best livestock, despite God’s instruction to kill every person and animal in the kingdom.
David was seen a better king than Saul. David displayed several factors that made him a better king than his predecessor. For instance, David was obedient to God, such that any decision he made was based on God’s advice through Samuel. Unlike Saul, David did not take the role of the prophets, but rather chose to seek for Samuel’s guidance.
David was a hero, having killed Goliath and a lion in his days as a young boy. He was also a strong king, which is shown by his ability to organize a strong army that successfully defeated most of his enemies. He was willing to listen to the will of God and his prophets. In addition, David was loyal to both God and King Saul. For instance, despite Saul’s wish to eliminate him, David spared Saul’s life, despite God presenting two opportunities to eliminate him.
Despite his wisdom and strength, Solomon made one sin that displeased God and caused the division of his kingdom after his death. Solomon’s desire for women brought foreign wives and concubines in his palace and kingdom. To satisfy these women, Solomon allowed them to keep some of their traditions, including erecting physical gods and other religious figures in the kingdom.
This contradicted God’s will and commandment “…do not worship other gods or objects …other than me…” (Hindson and Yates 56). This displeased God and caused a rebellion led by Absalom and eventually led to the division of the kingdom into two –Judah and Israel.
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Halpern, Baruch. David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King. Mason,OH: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Hindson, E and Yates, Gary. The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey. New York, NY: B&H Academic, 2012. Print.